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Standing with Borough

The dreadful events of Saturday evening happened just yards from where The Globe Church meet in London. Phil Tinker explains what they’ve been doing to support their community after this latest terror attack.

Standing with Borough primary image

Let me tell you about Borough.

This has been my neighbourhood for the past year since I moved from Bible College to serve full-time with The Globe Church which I helped to plant two years ago.

Borough Market, which neighbours London Bridge, is one of my favourite places in the world. I used to come here as a kid with my Dad and lapped up the smells and tastes of the international cuisines and freshly baked bread. Now I take my daughter there to see the lobsters in the tanks and pinch free cubes of delicious cheese.

It’s not all happiness here, though. Beggars are a part of our neighbourhood as well as bankers. Borough has many faces. It’s like a many-sided dice which when rolled could give you university students, social housing, penthouses, Muslims, Christians, atheists, white working class, graduates, artists, tourists, and everything in between.

On Saturday night, my neighbourhood was attacked.

This place of bustling life became a scene of death and chaos in a matter of minutes. This attack wasn’t just on those enjoying an evening prosecco, but on all of us who call this our home.

Supporting the Southbank

Let me tell you about my church.

We’re a church for this part of London we call the Southbank. We love the world class creativity that displays the image of God that you encounter at every turn here. We love the poor and needy and we’re doing our best to be a church for all who walk these streets.

But I have a pastor’s confession. We haven’t nailed doing mission here.

While it’s the many sided-ness of Borough that is so exciting to us as a young church plant, it’s that same dynamic that creates a challenge. With so many people on such different walks of life it’s hard to know where to focus and who to connect with. While there is a sense of being ‘Borough’ or ‘The Southbank’ there can feel like little obvious cohesion.

A Common Bond

Sunday felt different. Before our church service, which took place a stone’s throw from the police cordon, we took out chocolates and chatted with the world’s media and with local residents.

People came just to stand and stare at the scene. And when I asked how people felt about what happened there was an openness that is rarely experienced today. London is bold, moving: “no time to chat, I’m off to do something exciting”. But not on Sunday.

A young man’s hands shook as he put his cigarette to his mouth, telling me of the guilt he felt as an ex-police officer that he wasn’t there to help. Two university students spoke of how they had been in the market just hours before the attack, one of their favourite bars now a site of violence. A Polish chef from my local pub poured out his passionate anger.

Borough now has a common bond, a tragic experience that we share, that’s now part of our story.

Our prayer, and I invite you to join us, is that the Holy Spirit would use this moment to open hearts to the saving reign of Christ. The illusion that “everything’s okay” won’t fly right now.

And for our church and for our community, the common admission that there’s a problem and we don’t know how to fix it is the first step to finding the solution for every person in this many-sided place: the atoning, death-embracing cross of Jesus Christ.

Phil Tinker photo
Phil Tinker

Phil is assistant pastor at The Globe Church, an FIEC and Co-Mission Church on the Southbank, London. He is married to Vicki and they have a young daughter.

Follow Phil Tinker on Twitter – @phil_tinker